One of the most powerful marketing tools marketers have today is social media. From Facebook posts to tweets on Twitter, sharing your products or services on social media platforms is a great way to increase brand awareness, engagement, sales and leads.However, many people are left scratching their heads when it comes to marketing with Instagram.

With the speed of which Instagram is growing, don’t underestimate its value to boost your brand and marketing efforts.It has grown into an incredibly valuable marketing platform and even though the 18-29 year old’s are still prevalent users, the higher age groups are catching on and catching up fast.Some 2018 Instagram stats from Sprout Social are telling: 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded 80% of users follow a business on Instagram 65% of top-performing Instagram posts feature products

If you feel the tug to explore¬†free instagram followers as part of your social media marketing strategy, check out these initial pointers to help you get started:Use Hashtags WiselyYou don’t need to cram every hashtag you can think of in one post, but you do need at least a few.A hashtag is the # sign followed by descriptive words about your image as in this example, I used #marketing and #ctaconf, which was the conference I was attending at the time.When a user clicks/taps on a hashtag or types a hashtag into the search box, it brings up all images that use that hashtag. The user can even subscribe to continue to follow that hashtag.

The hope is the user will see your photo, head to your profile and best-case scenario, follow you and get engaged with more of your posts!However, when hashtags are extremely popular, the competition to show up in the results is fierce. Similar to SEO keywords, the more popular a term is, the harder it is to stay at the top of the search results. Thus, my example of using #marketing really was futile if I wanted to get any traction from that post.

You want to make your hashtags relevant to your business and location, but also engaging enough that a user would type them into Instagram’s search box.For instance: Say you have a pizza joint in Vancouver. You post a pic of your Pepperoni pizza with the hashtags #VancouversBestPizza #NicolosRestaurant #DeliciousDeepDish